Two interesting things came together this weekend. I heard about a keyboard that is built in the tradition of the Apple keyboards of old, and I read a Consumer Reports magazine that discussed the quality of PC‘s.
If you’ve been using Apple hardware for more than 10 years, you might remember that the quality of things produced by Apple was a bit better. Back then it was quite easy for the Mac-crowd to not only feel as if they had a superior operating system, but that they had superior hardware as well. Apple’s stuff was solid, and well manufactured, not flimsy and breakable, like so much of the hardware used to run Windows back then. Apple has always had the problem of costing a little bit (or a lot) more, but I’ve always felt you get quality for the price you pay. (Believe me, I won’t buy another Dodge!)
Today Apple still makes better hardware, and the Consumer Reports I read put Apple ahead of Dell and the others for reliability, least amount of problems, etc. This is of no surprise to people who use Apple hardware – it’s very nice – but years ago it was even better. I think things started to change when the first Macs without auto-inject floppy drives came out, the Mac started to lose some of it’s elegance that day, and it continued on as IDE drives started to replace SCSI hard drives…
Still, Apple had to make changes to become price competitive with the lower-quality products, because to the average consumer it’s still to some degree a matter of megahertz, or disk space, or screen size, or miles-per-gallon, or whatever… I think that more and more people are starting to see the value of the user experience, but to many it’s still just a game of numbers. When it comes to IT departments determining what tools a person needs to do their job, I sometimes think people should be forced to use Mac OS X for a minimum of one month before deciding that Windows is the best operating system for every desktop.
Apple had to lower itself to fit into the category of “good enough” while other companies seem to strive with all their might just to raise themselves up to such a label.